Legislative Line – September 2017

Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas has generated activity at the Texas Legislature in the past weeks. Hurricane response dominated the roundup of news in September, below, from the Texas Capitol.

Hurricane Harvey Update

On Sept. 14, House Speaker Joe Straus asked three House committees to begin studying issues related to Hurricane Harvey and state preparations for future natural disasters. A charge worth noting is:

On Sept. 28, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a set of interim charges directly related to issues resulting from Hurricane Harvey and the flooding aftermath. Important charges included in the list are:

Entire House interim charges related to Hurricane Harvey.

Entire Senate interim charges related to Hurricane Harvey.

On Sept. 29, Gov. Greg Abbott presented Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner a $50 million check for Hurricane Harvey relief. Turner then decided against a proposed property tax hike for the city. The money comes from the $100 million disaster relief fund appropriated to Abbott’s office during the last legislative session. It will go toward immediate relief needs such as reconstruction. Long-term recovery and preventive measures will likely be funded by the federal government and, potentially, the state’s $10 billion Rainy Day Fund. Abbott mentioned the possibility for a special session to allocate funds for recovery and prevention but not until exact costs for recovery are known.

House and Senate News

Senate interim charge requests were due to Lt. Gov. Patrick on Sept. 22. While Harvey-related charges have already been released, you can expect the rest of the interim charges to be announced later this year.

On Sept. 22, Rep. Phil King officially declared his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House. King’s announcement came at the end of the two-day House Republican Caucus retreat. One topic that was set to come up at the meeting was the caucus’s procedures for picking a speaker. Asked why he’s running, King said the special session was the “final straw” for him. He cited a number of proposals that he believes Straus blocked and pointed to the speaker’s decision to end the special session a day early, over the objections of some members. Speaker Joe Straus has said he plans to seek a record-breaking sixth term behind the dais in 2019.